Portugal Day 6: Lisbon and Colares

Portugal Diaries Day 6 :Lisbon and Colares

Our last day in Portugal had a free morning so everyone did what they wanted. Some went to museums, some 1/2 day tours, some wandered through the old town.

Our boutique hotel was well situated in the heart of the old city and I personally spent the free time riding Tram 12 through the old town.

tram 12 Lisbon

tram 12 Lisbon

After lunch we left for a visit to Sintra and Quinta da Regaleira, an exquisite ‘country home’ for a noble Portuguese who spared no expense on creating a utopian paradise.

Then we left for our last visit of the tour: Casal Sta. Maria in Colares. Collares is the most Western vineyard of Europe.

Colares is impacted by the strong Atlantic influence and the North winds create unique microclimates. And let’s not forget the soil: beach sand so porous that phylloxera was never able to establish a presence.

The biggest danger to this area was human: residents of Lisbon looking for second homes. So from 150 hectares, the vineyard area was reduced to just 8 hectares. But thanks to a few people with vision, areas under viticulture have since increased to 15 hectares and growing.

The manor house at Casal Sta. Maria is older than the United States. It was built by Portuguese nobility who deserted the country in 1920 after the monarchy was overthrown.

The current owner’s grandfather purchased the abandoned derelict estate in 2007 and in 2009 the first wine was produced.

The winery currently produces 65,000 bottles annually each labelled by the grape variety: whites are Chardonnay, Malvasia, Sauvignon Blanc and Petit Manseng; reds are Pinot Noir, Merlot, Touriga Nacional and Merlot, and the Colares claim to fame, Ramisco.

Colares vineyards close to Atlantic

Colares vineyards close to Atlantic

Ramisco is a rare red wine which is undrinkablele when young. By law it has to age 10 years in barrel and the acidity and tannins make wines that can age for decades.

Ramisco is so rare because it is grown on beach sand close to the Atlantic. Literally just a few barrels per year are produced and in a tasting a few years ago sponsored by the Portuguese Wine Council, we were able to taste Ramisco and were told that this would be probably be the only time we would taste this wine in our lives.

Even the Malvasia, a white wine, can age for decades.

The winery is a magnificent estate perched on the hills overlooking the Atlantic. Our dinner of local specialties was accompanied by the following wines:

  • Malvasia 2016, non DOC, tropical aromas, bone dry, high acidity, leaves your breath dry, taste of oranges, grapefruit, with the characteristic saltiness of the region;
  • Arinto 2017, strong acidity, more vegetal;
  • Sauvignon Blanc 2016, grassy, vegetal, green peppers;
  • Malvasia de Colares 2014, grown on sandy soil, only 1,000 bottles produced, spent 2.5 years on oak, aromas of ripe white fruit, peaches, apricots, deep yellow color, sharp acidity;
  • Pinot Noir 2016, a beautiful light red rust color, toasty, musty, mushroom notes, red cherry fruit aromas;
  • Merlot 2014, soft tannins, more structure; Ramisco 2009, still plenty of acidity, tannins, musty, moldy like ‘grandmother’s old furniture’, a unique profile with an acquired taste, something like cherries aged in alcohol;
  • Petit Manseng late harvest, honey, ripe apricots, great acidity.

It was an exquisite farewell dinner on a beautiful sunny day and a wonderful meal of seabass, a superb way to top off a wonderful visit to Portugal.

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